Category: Architecture

Googie versus Goliath

Amber Trillo photo
Set your Tivo’s to see my interview with Jenny Cunningham, a reporter with KCTS-TV (9) in Seattle at 7:30 this evening on Channel 9. She has been working on a segment called, “Googie versus Goliath,” and it’s a look at the landmarking process in Seattle and the controversy surrounding the Ballard Manning’s/Denny’s battle. She invited me to add my two cents to the proceedings, as I’ve been documenting Googie architecture in the Seattle area for several years on The show will be repeated again Sunday morning 2/10 at 10:30 am.

Mannings 1964

Many folks have asked me what prompted my interest in Google and I have to think it was looking at the Space Needle most every day outside my window. We’re living here with the largest known monument to Googe Architecture right in our backyard. What’s not to love?

Space Needle

Googie Architecture is most closely associated with the popular architecture and culture of 1950’s and 60’s Southern California, but the Seattle area had it share as well. Though quicky disappearing, there are still some remnants of this modern and space-age look around Seattle, and this Ballard Mannings building is one of them, and that’s why it’s so important to try to preserve this building.

Googie Architecture features bold angles, sweeping cantilevered roofs and pop-culture design. It was a way to grab and hold the attention of a budding car-culture, as we sped by on the freeways. It was a glimpse of the future, Today.

Knute Berger has a great series of articles about the controversy at Crosscut, our local online magazine of news from the Great Nearby.

Denny’s fans hunger for a historic grand slam in Seattle (Los Angeles Times)

Trump investing in Seattle?

The Gang at Trump Tower

It was reported in the PSBJ that Donald Trump and Wood Partners LLC, a multifamily developer based in Atlanta, are in negotiations to find a site in Seattle for a hotel/condominium project.

Is this the beginning of the end for Seattle as we know it?

Years ago, when California buyers were cashing in their equity and moving into the Pacific Northwest, we used to pray for one of those “California Buyers” to walk into our Open House and plop down cash for our properties. Then when that happened too often, we’d put “Seattle Native” on our license plates and mutter “Don’t Californicate Washington” under our breaths.

What’s the East Coast equivalent to this sentiment? When I was growing up here, people used to complain about Seattle being an unsophisticated backwater. Now, they’re complaining that it’s losing its character with all of the unbridled development.

I hope that enough people will treasure our short history here and our town doesn’t become interchangeable with every other American city, with it’s chains and franchises. I hope that developers can fight the urge to fill their condos and developments with mammoth retail spaces and, instead, make the shop spaces smaller and cheaper to encourage quirky boutiques and small businesses. And I hope they don’t turn a “blind eye” to the street when adding that retail space, allowing the stores to board over the sidewalk-facing windows just to pack in more shelf-space in the stores. That makes for a very unfriendly streetscape.

Achieving density of the sort that makes attractive and lively places does not need not be at the expense of privacy, of overcrowded houses or of increases in traffic and noise. Building types and lot arrangements, though, must be chosen or invented to maintain the character of our city. Ostentatious displays of wealth are not in character with Seattle’s self-made and humble fisherman and lumberjack origins.

Condo Map from the Seattle Times

Vancouver B.C., our neighbor to the North, has been undertaking a mammoth experiment in urbanism, making over a city in concrete and glass, unlike anything that’s been done in Canada. As the skyline of Seattle changes in tandem, we stop, pause, and wonder what we’re becoming, where we’re going, and what we’ve become.

In Vancouver, ninety percent of the nine million square feet of new towers approved in downtown during this decade have been condos.

In Seattle it’s pretty much the same story. Last year, the Seattle City Council cleared the way for sweeping changes to the downtown skyline when it repealed the height limits voters set on downtown buildings in the 1989 CAP Initiative. According to an article by Bob Young, High-rise boom coming to Seattle? this change could bring as many as 2000 more condo units to downtown Seattle in the coming years.

According to an article in “Canadian Architect” by Trevor Boddy Downtown’s Last Resort, one-third of Vancouver’s head-office jobs left the city during the past six years and the city is becoming a playground of the super-rich and a repository of international funds, parked there as a hedge against global unrest. Critics decry the shift to a downtown future as a “resort,” not a true metropolis and compare the condo glut to “vertical gated communities.”

Then there are questions about the nature of these new downtown residents. Planners portray them as mountain-biking software and computer game developers, walk-to-work denizens of the postmodern economy–but there is just as much contrary evidence that many of the new residents are a golden global class temporarily parking their investment dollars, linked with a huge cohort of Canadian baby boomers planning to spend their final years in Vancouver.

Will downtown Seattle also become a playground for the rich and the elderly? Who will inhabit our new downtown? It won’t be families. There doesn’t appear to be a huge influx of jobs to the downtown area. How many empty-nesters and suburban couples will want to live out their years in a high-rise Trump-style retirement community called Downtown Seattle?

1000 condos planned for Qwest Field

Downtown living works in Vancouver, B.C. — but will it translate?

New condos: Which one’s the tallest of all?

How We Can Make Our Streets More “Pedestrian Friendly”


Toronto Shock!

Canadian photographer Robin Collyer began documenting houses that aren’t houses at all – they’re architecturally-disguised electrical substations, complete with windows, blinds, and bourgeois landscaping.
“During the 1950s and 1960s,” Collyer explains in a recent issue of Cabinet Magazine, “the Hydro-Electric public utilities in the metropolitan region of Toronto built structures known as ‘Bungalow-Style Substations.’ These stations, which have transforming and switching functions, were constructed in a manner that mimics the style and character of the different neighborhoods.”

From Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG

Effects of electro-magnetic fields in the home.

Solutions for electro-magnetic sensitivity

Best New Buildings

Seattle Architecture

Houses made of bottles

The Bottle Houses on Prince Edward Island

House made out of bottles in Rhyolite, Nevada, a Ghost Town about 100 miles outside of Vegas

Doc Hope’s Bottle House in Hillsville, VA, built in 1941

Anna’s Bottle Home in Tucson, Arizona

Why is there an airplane (with runway) on 77 Water Street Building in Manhattan?

What was it like to live on a Utah farm in the 1920’s? How were homes different then? Take a look through my grandparents home in Leamington, (Millard County) Utah

ArchInfo’s World’s 12 Best New Buildings

Who wouldn’t want to live in a Tree House?

The Cedar Creek Treehouse in Ashford, WA

Hiroba, the Sapporo Dome Stadium with the world’s first “hovering soccer stage” (Including a QuickTime movie, showing how the full soccer field is being transferred in & out the dome)

“Raw concrete” of the Brutalist architecture

Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman’s Age of the Domiciles

Lincoln Toe Truck, a pink landmark south of Lake Union, and other Seattle Icons & Roadside Attractions. Also, Seattle’s “Hat ‘n’ Boots” and other Unusual homes

This is a post that I am “co-blogging” with Hanan Levin, a real estate agent from Southern California who blogs at Grow-A-Brain and who provided many of today’s links. Thank you, Hanan! You can view other co-blogged entries of Hanan’s HERE. If other bloggers are interested to share the forum here on any other topic, please contact me for details. If you’re interested in Hanan’s site, check out HERE for his incredible list of topics.

(Photo above from NW Links.) Many More of Hanan’s Unusual architectural Links Here


Elvis of Cans Architects and engineers compete to see whose team can build the most spectacular structure using little more than cans of food at
Canstruction, the 13th annual NYC Design and Build competition in New
York. The exhibit at New York Design Center is open to the public. At
the end of the competition on 23 November 2005, the 130,000 cans that
are part of the exhibit will be given to the Food Bank of New York

Canstruction is a national charity and has similar competitions each
year in over 66 cities throughout the United States and Canada. For
more information, visit

Team Disney

Disney Building Disney is not just for kids. When you visit any of the Disney theme parks or hotels, you’ll find buildings designed by some of the world’s leading architects.
Typically, theme park architecture is — well — thematic. Borrowing popular motifs from history and fairy tales, theme park buildings are designed to tell a story. At the Disney theme parks, the architects may
strive for historic authenticity and recreate historic buildings or
take a whimsical approach and exaggerate storybook images or
create subtle, abstract images.

Disneyland — Unreal Reality

Walt Disney World Architecture

The Swan and Dolphin by Michael Graves.

Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall in Architecture Week


According to the Wall Street Journal, there is enough space in rentable self-storage lockers in the U.S. for each man, woman and child to stand on a spot 2 ½ feet by 2 ½ feet, with room left over. The U.S. has 1.875 billion square feet of self-storage space. While 40 percent of the total self-storage space is rented by businesses, one in every 11 American households now has a self-storage unit. That’s up from one in 17 in 1995. A third of the units are rented by people with incomes under $30,000 a year. The self-storage industry’s revenue is $15 billion. Self-storage facilities increasingly are high-rises, many with elevators and climate control. And, abandoned big-box retail stores are being converted into storage facilities.

There is a growing movement of innovators active in transforming the common shipping cargo containers into dwellings, studios, shops, and live/work spaces. A design/archetecture collective has sprung up in Seattle, made up of architects Robert Humble and Joel Egan.

Although, in raw form, containers are dark windowless boxes (which might place them at odds with some of the tenets of modernist design…) they can be highly customizable modular elements of a larger structure.